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The poet mourns the cutting of the poplar trees, whose delicate beauty is not only conveyed in their appearance, but in the way they created “airy cages” to catch the sunlight. These lovely trees, Hopkins grieves, have all been “felled. ” This may insinuate that Hopkins is disappointed in the human race because they fail to realize the consequences of their actions The diction used in the poem is closely related to flora and nature, but is generally in a negative sense.
Words like “delve or hew” are words of destruction as these actions hurt the earth we live on and as Hopkins says, “country” is something “so tender” that it’s damageable without being able to change it back. As an analogy, Hopkins used the pricking of an eyeball. Our sight is one of our most valuable gifts of life and to damage it even slightly may change our way of life completely as we are so dependent on our sight.
Hence if we damage our eyes they become useless to us, because we cannot see with them.
The implication is that we are harmed as much as the landscape; Hopkins wants us to feel this as a real loss to ourselves. Not only will the landscape not be there, but we will also no longer be able to see it. I believe that Hopkins has made a terrific comparison here; nature must not be underestimated as it has been around for longer than anyone on earth and is an important part of the world in the past and will be in the future as well.
This poem is closely related to Felix Randal and the Windhover as Hopkins depicts a sense of divinity not in a human or a bird this time, but in the flora itself (i. . the forest).
This is created as Hopkins tends to put emphasis on the beautiful and all-powerful imagery that is created. This is holds very true to the poetry I have read so far from Hopkins, as it is becoming quite clear that Hopkins believes that nature is the essence of life. A particular relationship is that of Felix Randal with this poem. Although Hopkins portrays both subjects to be divine, he knows that they are not immortal, since he has seen how easy it was for a forest and a man to break down and disappear.
As I read the poem that sense of power I talked about before overwhelmed me. There is definitely some personification in the ways Hopkins portrays the poplar trees that grow along the riverbed. The “airy cages”, meaning the branches, on the trees are intertwined and hence seem like a crown which catches the sunlight hence making it light up and bright, much like a king’s head. These “airy cages” cast a shadow of bars on the surface of the river, which makes the poplar trees seem like they are “sandaled” or wearing shoes.
This gives the trees a powerful aura about them as they are portrayed like deities. These are my personal interpretations of the poem. These “airy cages”, as they “quench” the sunrays, are vital to land. If the trees would be removed then the sun could easily pass and hence could dry out the land. The word “quench” is a good onomatopoeic word to portray the catching of the sun’s rays. Quenching is a form of putting out fire as it makes an “shhhhhhhh” sound when water is poured very fire. Other personification in the poem is the “folded rank”.
This relates back to the army, where soldiers are ordered to stand in an ordered fashion; often this is just a straight line. This relates back to the line of trees, while also straight and orderly like soldiers, yet follows the bends of the river, so that their “rank” is “following” and “folded,” caught up in complex patterns rather than being solely inflexible, and intangible. While reading the poem I also noticed several other literary devices like alliteration, repetition, internal rhyme, inversion, and compression.
An example of alliteration in the poem is in line 4 where it says: “Of a fresh and following folded rank” This repetition of this harsh “f” sound causes an emphasis on the way the trees are in “rank”, they seem to be folded about in the straight line they are standing in hence if one blows over a whole “rank” may fall down due top the domino effect. An example of repetition in the poem appears in line 3 where Hopkins says: “All felled, felled, are all felled;” This repetition of the word felled sounds like an outcry much like an exclamation, where Hopkins desperately tries to make us see what we have done.
This repetition is a reaction to our greed. At this point in the poem, Hopkins creates another great contrast. He says: “Hack and rack the growing green. ” Hack and rack are internal rhyme, which speeds up the reading, so it is a fast and short action. It also an onomatopoeic sound as it sounds like an axe chopping. A combination of these two literary devices gives rise to imagery of how fast and easy it is to kill nature and destroy it. Growing green is an alliteration, which slows down the reader. Hopkins must have put this in the poem because it shows an extremely slow action.
Hopkins used this to tell the reader that nature grows to slowly, to be able to cut it down and not hurt the earth. Later on the poem he also uses a form of inversion, which, in combination with the above sentence, is again related to the easily damageable earth. It says in line 11: “When we hew or delve” and in line 19: “when we delve or hew”. This was done to show that it doesn’t matter how you hurt the earth, hurting it is hurting it. He then comes with another argument, that it is not fair to people who have never seen it before and thus will never be able to see it, since we greedily cut the forest down.
An example of compression is line 5 where it says: “Not spared, not one”, this is down to bring about the emphasis and to a certain extent scare the reader that nothing is left of the trees. This can be established from the fact that it is an extremely short sentence. There is some further compression in line 20 where: “After-comers cannot guess the beauty been. ” The compression happens after beauty, where there is a word missing (… that has… ) but the essence of the sentence is still the same. This compression occurs to keep the rhythm of the sentence structure constant.
Throughout this poem, Hopkins tries to make it clear to us that nature is one of the most important things in our lives, this is why he compares it to our eyes, an organ of high priority which we can not live without. This is his major concern that humans do not realize the implications of their actions and eventually destroy all natural things without realizing their loss. Hopkins has realised this and written a successful reactionary poem to bring this to the readers attention and I believe he was very successful.
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